A good step but it's not enough, says legal sector

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 29 January, 2003, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 29 January, 2003, 12:00am

The legal community said the government had taken a step in the right direction on national security legislation but that concessions on the initial proposals were far from sufficient.

Bar Association chairman Edward Chan King-sang said while the concerns of the banking and financial sectors appeared to have been heeded, there were still too many problems, and public scrutiny was just as important now as it was before.

'There are lots of things yet to be clarified or taken out completely, such as the proscription of foreign-affiliated organisations by the secretary for security. But we have not heard from the government in clear and uncertain terms that there will be a second round of consultation, in particular using a white bill.'

Mr Chan also advised journalists to continue to be vigilant despite the change in proposals to criminalise the unauthorised disclosure of protected information.

Law Society president Simon Ip Shing-hing said the government had moved in a good direction but whether it was good enough needed to be studied.

Law Society constitutional affairs committee chairman Peter Lo Chi-lik said the government had not given up much by doing away with offences such as that which would have penalised people for not reporting on others who may have committed treason.

'That was almost a joke to begin with - I don't think they are giving up much by getting rid of that,' he said. 'We have heard what the government has said. It sounds like it is going in the right direction but you have to look at the fine print. Whatever is not strictly required should be removed.'

Both bodies said they would continue to campaign for a white bill.